Spring 2017

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24 SAG-AFTRA | Spring 2017 | Broadcast News W hile SAG-AFTRA's primary purpose is to represent the collective interests of its members, one member category — broadcast journalists — are part of a profession that has been under unusual pressure lately, and our union has responded accordingly. Recent attacks on the legitimacy and integrity of journalists of all stripes spurred the union to speak out on behalf of not just SAG-AFTRA broadcasters who report news on radio, television and the internet in markets across the country, but in support of the institution of journalism itself. SAG-AFTRA released a statement in late February which read: "As a union whose membership includes broadcast and online journalists, SAGAFTRA champions the rights of a free press, whose primary role is to provide citizens with the information they need to effectively govern a democracy. These rights are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which establishes that the press shall be free from government interference in the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions. "SAG-AFTRA, journalists and non-journalists alike, supports a free and unencumbered press and stands with any journalist who might find his or her ability to report on our government challenged or compromised. "SAG-AFTRA believes first and foremost that citizens in a democracy need the truth. Furthermore, SAG-AFTRA believes that journalists have an obligation to monitor and question those in power, pointing out wrongdoing when they find it, noting when facts asserted are not supported by evidence and reporting inconsistencies in the positions of public figures. "As working professionals, members of the news media have an obligation to verify the accuracy of what they report, with loyalty only to their readers, listeners and viewers and not to any political party, affiliation or ideology. "As a proud labor union representing more than 160,000 broadcasters, actors and entertainers, SAG-AFTRA stands with all of its members in ensuring that the basic rights of a free and independent press continue to be upheld." Chief Broadcast Officer Mary Cavallaro, one of the group of members and staff who drafted the statement, said, "We felt this is a moment when our institutional voice should play a role in protecting an important function of our democracy. A free press serves the interest of all Americans." At the March Broadcast Steering Committee meeting, National Board member and BSC Chair Joe Krebs gave opening remarks before kicking off a panel examining the press' critical role during this time. He quoted The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel: "The primary purpose of journalism is to provide people with the information they need to be free and self-governing." Krebs followed up with a discussion of the authors' views on the essence of journalism, some of which are: • Journalism's first obligation is to the truth. • Journalism's first loyalty is to the citizens. • Journalism must serve as an independent monitor of power. • Journalism must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise. The panel discussed the challenges journalists face today and the role that SAG-AFTRA should play in addressing those challenges. HONORING A TRAILBLAZER During the March 25 Broadcast Steering Committee meeting at SAG-AFTRA Plaza, SAG-AFTRA's Honors & Tributes Committee recognizes Tony Valdez for his 35 years of dedicated reporting at Fox 11 Los Angeles. Valdez was one of the first journalists to break the TV news color barrier. SOCIAL MEDIA MEETS JOURNALISM NPR's Sonari Glinton, center, speaks at a March 25 SAG-AFTRA Broadcast Steering Committee panel on the intersection of social media and journalism at SAG-AFTRA Plaza in Los Angeles. Fellow panelists included, from left, media professionals Karen North, Andrew Jeffries, moderator Hal Eisner and Todd Mokhtari. "It's not just about being first, it's about being unique," Glinton said. Union Champions Free Press

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